How does a 60/40 divorce split work?

60/40 divorce split

By Kayla Curtis

· Read time: 7 minutes

A 60/40 divorce split refers to a property settlement where one party gets 60% of the combined assets, while the other receives 40%.

The combined assets of a couple are also known as the ‘asset pool.’

What is the usual divorce settlement in Australia?

It’s important to note that there is no fixed formula for determining how assets should be divided in a divorce, and the split will depend on a number of factors. These can include:

  • The length of the relationship
  • The financial circumstances of each party
  • The contributions made by each party to the marriage (both financial and non-financial)
  • The future needs  of both members of the couple
  • The over all fairness of the settlement

Rather than following a predetermined formula, the law considers various factors to determine a “just and equitable” distribution of assets. 

Is Every Divorce Split 50/50?

No, not every divorce split is 50/50. The Family Law Act emphasises the concept of a “just and equitable” division rather than an imposed 50:50 ratio. 

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While some couples may opt for a 50/50 split, others may agree on a different ratio based on their specific circumstances. See our article on a 50/50 divorce settlement.

The goal is to achieve a fair outcome that considers both financial and non-financial contributions made by each party.

How do you negotiate the division of assets?

Couples typically have four options to consider:

Non-legal arrangement

This option involves couples independently reaching an agreement on how to split their assets without involving the legal system. While it may be a more informal approach, it is important for couples to document their agreement to avoid potential disputes in the future.

Binding financial agreement (BFA)

A binding financial agreement, also known as a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement, is a legally enforceable document that outlines how assets will be divided in the event of a divorce. This option provides couples with certainty and control over the asset division process.

Consent orders

Consent orders involve obtaining court approval for a formal agreement between the couple regarding the division of their assets. This option provides a level of certainty and ensures that the agreement is legally binding. 

Couples typically submit their proposed agreement to the court for review and approval.

Litigation

If couples are unable to reach an agreement through negotiation or other means, they may resort to litigation, where a judge will make a final decision on the division of assets. 

Litigation can be a lengthy and costly process and may result in a less satisfactory outcome for both parties, as the decision is ultimately in the hands of the court.

How are the assets actually valued?

Professional valuers, accountants, or independent experts may be consulted to determine the accurate value of each asset. 

They consider factors such as market value, depreciation, and potential tax implications. 

In some cases, assets may need to be sold to facilitate a fair division. 

Different assets may have varying liquidity and tax implications, which can influence their ultimate value in the settlement.

An example of a 60/40 divorce settlement

A fictitious example of a 60/40 divorce split may look like this:

Victoria and Sarah are divorcing and are dividing their property. They have been married for 4 years and have been a couple for roughly 8 years. Below are the facts about the parties:

  1. Sarah makes $90,000 a year from her full-time job as a marketing assistant.
  2. Victoria makes $55,000 annually from her part-time employment as a school teachers aid.
  3. They have three children, ages four, six and 10 they adopted together three years ago.
  4. $990,000 family home with a mortgage of $550,000. Valued at $875,000 in April .
  5. Family vehicle is a $14,000 Jeep Wrangler worth: $10,000
  6. The furniture accumulates to around a net worth $35,000
  7. Sarah and Victoria have a shared account with $30,000
  8. Sarah and Victoria have a joint credit card with a $50,000 limit. Currently owing $24,000

The below list sets out each individual parties assets and liabilities:

  1. Sarah’s superannuation: $289,000
  2. Victoria’s Superannuation:$110,000
  3. Sarah’s motor bike: $22,000
  4. Victoria’s credit line after-pay: $3000

Below are the contributions of each of the parties:

  1. Sarah and Victoria worked throughout their relationship. However, since adopting the children three years ago, Victoria has worked on a casual basis so she can look after the kids.
  2. Victoria is the parent who is in charge of taking the children too and from school and to after school activities.
  3. Sarah works long hours, therefore Victoria is left do most of the child rearing on her own. However, Sarah helps when she can.
  4. An agreement was reached between the parties that due to Victoria’s parental duties taking up most of her time and the fact that the children will reside primarily with her, a property division of 60/40 Victoria’s way, is fair and just.

Through mediation sessions, they ultimately decide

  1. Both Sarah and Victoria will be able to continue to work up to retirement age (pending any unforeseen circumstances).
  2. The children will primarily live with Victoria. Both Sarah and Victoria agree that Victoria will likely need to stop working casually to make sure she can tend to the children’s needs.
  3. They both agree that the 60/40 split in Victoria’s favour is fair and just due to the parental responsibilities moving forward and the impact on Victoria’s future earning capacity and impacted superannuation.

How long does a divorce settlement take?

The duration of a divorce settlement process can vary depending on the complexity of the case, the willingness of both parties to cooperate, and the backlog of cases in the family court system. Simple, uncontested settlements may be finalised within a few months (or even weeks), while more complex cases can take significantly longer. 

When couples are locked into protracted litigation and an inability to negotiate, property settlements to stretch out for years. This is relatively rare, but it does happen.

Factors such as the need for property valuations, financial investigations, and negotiations between the parties can extend the timeline. 

FAQs

Which assets are considered in a divorce?

Assets considered in a divorce typically include properties, investments, businesses, vehicles, savings accounts, pensions, and personal belongings acquired during the marriage. Debts and liabilities are also taken into account when determining the overall asset division.

Can you get divorced before the property settlement?

Yes, it is possible to get divorced before reaching a property settlement.

Can you get divorced without a financial settlement?

Yes you can. The divorce and the property / financial settlement are treated as 2 distinct legal processes.

It is recommended to initiate the process of dividing assets before finalising the divorce. This is because the asset pool may undergo changes after separation, such as acquiring additional assets or receiving inheritances, which could be subject to division between you and your ex-partner.

Similarly, if one of you accumulates debt post-separation, it can have a significant adverse effect on the division of assets. By addressing the asset division promptly, you can ensure a fair and accurate assessment of the assets and liabilities involved, minimising potential complications and disputes in the future.

Is a 60/40 settlement affected by being defacto?

Australian family law recognises de facto relationships as being subject to the same principles of property division as marriages.

Key takeaway

It’s important to note that while a 60/40 split is a common proportional division of assets, it may not be appropriate in all cases. Each divorce is unique, and it’s important to seek the advice of a qualified family lawyer who can provide guidance on the fairest division of assets.

If you would like to discuss your options in regard to a property settlement or any aspect of Australian family law, please contact us today for a confidential discussion.

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